By JAMILA RIZVI
When two Wallabies players decided to go for burgers at 3.00am, the night before a rugby test against England that only takes place every twelve years – that was an idiotic move.
When the likes of Bernard Tomic and Mark Philopousis (some of our most outstanding tennis talent) acted like playing Davis Cup for their country was beneath them – that was selfish and ungrateful.
And when six members of the Australian men’s swim team decided to take Stilnox and party into the night at the London Olympics’ Athletes Village, putting theirs and (more distressingly) their teammates’ success at risk – that was just plain stupid.
So last week when respected columnist Peter FitzSimons wrote a piece for Fairfax titled ‘Why, oh why, does Gen Y not get it?’ in which he bemoaned the current brood of elite Australian athletes – he certainly had ample evidence to support his case.
“There seems to be truth to the notion that something is missing in the current generation when it comes to what is expected of them when accorded the sacred privilege of ”playing for Australia”….
Is it not true most of our national teams have lost their way in the past decade or so? That whereas we used to rule the roost in so many sports, we are now more likely to be the feather dusters making up the numbers? Isn’t it obvious that, all too frequently, part of the problem seems to be… lack of hunger?”
FitzSimons didn’t hold back as he took aim at James O’Connor, Kurtley Beale, Nick D’Arcy, James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, Tommaso D’Orogna, James Roberts, Matt Targett, Cameron McEvoy, Michael Clarke, Mark Philiposous and Bernard Tomic.
The problem, FitzSimons claims, is their Gen Y-ness.
When compared with the generation of athletes who came before them, these blokes just don’t cut the low-carb, high protein mustard. They aren’t grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given. They don’t wear the green and gold with the requisite level of pride. They don’t respect the fans who believe in them and look up to them as heroes. They don’t work hard enough.
Instead of behaving like bratty rich kids, these athletes should look, says FitzSimons, to the superstar Australian rugby and tennis players, swimmers and cricketers, who came before them. The baby boomers or gen X-ers who trained with dedication, displayed unrivaled patriotism and were in sport to push the boundaries of physical human achievement – rather than hanging out for a good time, big money and cute babes.
But how about these athletes look sideways instead of backwards: To the women’s teams who play alongside them.
You don’t see Australia’s sportswomen making the list of Badly Behaved Douche-Canoes.
Elyse Perry is 22-years-old and representing her country in both soccer and cricket. Oh and when she’s not busy, you know, winning the Cricket World Cup final against the West Indies, she’s studying economics and social sciences at the University of Sydney.
Sally Fitzgibbons is 20-years-old, a professional surfer who is currently ranked number three in the world.
Sally has just taken up a new ambassador-type role with the NSW Police, where she uses her celebrity to make sure Australians at the beach use common sense, limit their alcohol intake and stay safe over summer.